*bump* for Pete's latest rant
The Autoextremist - Rants
By Peter M. De Lorenzo - Monday, October 10, 2016
Detroit. That the winds of change are blowing through this business like the chill of an early fall is no revelation. Some of these winds are dark, brooding and foreboding; others are merely progressions marked by the natural cadence of time.
The business is deep in the throes of a “Je ne sais quoi" moment. The month-to-month sales prognosticators have weighed in because that’s what they’re paid to do, but do they really know what is going to happen in 2017? No. I am quite certain of one thing, however - we’ve reached the cannibalism stage
in this current car market. From here on out we will see the major auto manufacturers cram more and more of every incentive
imaginable on their cars and trucks to maintain market share, while hopefully taking market share away from their competitors. As you might imagine, it’s going to get ugly before it stops, and the victories will be Pyrrhic, at best.
And while that dance of impending slowness is playing out, we have a mountain of questions to consider that will impact this business for the next 25 years. Defining moments – and technologies - that will transform the industry...
...And then there’s the Lincoln vs. Cadillac battle
that’s shaping up right now before our very eyes. Cadillac is being reimagined in the likeness of Audi by longtime U.S. Audi guru Johan de Nysschen, right down to the generic and colorless alphanumeric nomenclature that stands for exactly nothing (except for the Escalade, of course). Take that, combined with an excruciatingly painful advertising campaign that has become so gratingly offensive over time that it’s turning consumers off in droves, and you have an American car company – albeit with some decently executed products - aspiring to be a force in the luxury market but with apparently no frickin’ idea how to effectively market.
On the other side you have Lincoln, which has worn out Matthew McConaughey’s sell-by date quite a while ago but which now has its new Continental
coming on line. As I’ve said before, even though the Continental doesn’t boast the technical chops that the Cadillac CT6 has, it has the one thing that Cadillac doesn’t, and that’s a name that resonates across a wide spectrum of consumers. And given that Lincoln’s brain trust has demonstrated marketing and advertising instincts (except for staying with McConaughey too long) that are head and shoulders above the best that Cadillac can muster, don’t be surprised if the Continental emerges as the clear winner in this face-off.
The Lincoln marketing troops have already unveiled a presentation that’s far superior to anything Cadillac has done to date with it’s initial foray for the Continental engaging the visual creativity of Annie Leibovitz in “That’s Continental”.
But then again, does all of this really matter in the Big Picture? Not as much as it once did, that’s for sure. In the American market we’re talking bragging rights only, as it’s clear that the fortunes of both Cadillac and Lincoln will ultimately reside in the Chinese market. But there still is a certain image aura available to Lincoln and Cadillac here. It might be an aura that’s marked by fading light, as the Asian theater swallows everything whole, but it’s a distinctive aura nonetheless. And a very American aura too. And right now Lincoln – or the Lincoln Motor Company as it wants to be known – is definitely showing its taillights to Cadillac in terms of this whole image-wrangling thing.
And let’s forget about the trepidation and hand-wringing associated with the autonomous car movement for the time being...
...We’re on the precipice of a fundamental shift.
The automotive “thing” is breaking away from what has been familiar for more than 125 years...
...it’s going to be jarring and disruptive to a lot of people.
Yes, we will have cars with internal combustion engines for many, many years to come,
but the mainstream car business, as we know it, is breaking away for good... More & more!...
hey, this is PdL after all...